Why you should have a will
Why you should have a will – in this article, we will discuss how a will can help you, and what the difference is between a will and a trust.
Are you surprised to learn you already have a will, even if you never signed anything related to your wishes in your life. The State of California, through the codes and laws passed, give you a basic will. That also provides a guide for the courts to use in how to distribute your property (at a cost).
The first question is whether the the person who died) was married. If the decedent was not married, the estate is distributed as follows:
- To the decedent’s children, who take in equal shares if they are in the same generation.
- If there are no children or other issue (issue is the legal term for children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) living, the estate goes to the decedent’s parents.
- If there are no parents living, the estate is distributed to the “issue of the parents.” If the decedent had brothers or sisters, they will inherit the estate. If there are deceased brothers and sisters, and they had issue, the issue will inherit the share of the estate that the deceased brother or sister would have inherited.
- If there are no brothers or sisters, the decedent’s grandparents will inherit the estate.
- If there are no living grandparents, then the “issue of the grandparents” will inherit the estate. This could include the decedent’s aunts and uncles, or if there aren’t any aunts and uncles, the decedent’s cousins. Generally, the oldest generation that has surviving issue will inherit, but if there are deceased issue in that generation, their issue will inherit their share.
- If there are no cousins, Probate Code section 6402 provides that the estate will be distributed to “next of kin in equal degree,” generally meaning more distant cousins.
The reason why people write a specific will is to make sure that their wishes are carried out, and to avoid the costs, delays, and taxes, of probate.
Why you should have a Living Trust
A living trust is different than a will, in that is creates a separate trust, like a corporation, to hold the property you own. That makes it easier to just change the owners of the trust, and avoid taxes, delays, and court proceedings.
If you have questions for our estate planning attorney, please contact us today.